Beautiful rock formation and desert scenes in Arizona and Utah have always been on my list of top travel spots. I secretly really want to go with my dad with our cameras. Last year Aaron showed interests in going there. As a planner plus a dreamer, I planned out a nine-day trip from Zion National Park, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, to Monument Valley, and then circling back to Vegas through the south rim of Grand Canyon. From budget to food to things to do and see. It seems that this dream trip will not come true any time soon, so Red Rock Canyon became a tiny sample of my grand mission.
I tagged along to this short weekend trip in Vegas. The Strip did not interest me at all, so I started researching places to go near the Strip. Death Valley looked amazing but was a bit too far. As much as I wanted to see some cool places, I understood that Aaron really wanted to sleep in and kept driving to the minimum. Mount Charleston…photos the peak looked beautiful, but the mid elevation hiking trails looked relatively uneventful to me compared to some desert scene. I did not want to travel all the way to Vegas, drive up to this mountain, and thought, oh, this reminds me of Seven Spring. (A ski resort near Pittsburgh.) Red Rock Canyon became a front runner as soon as I found this place.
這次當跟班來拉斯維加斯，但我對拉斯維加斯大道一點也沒興趣，於是開始尋找附近的景點。死亡谷Death Valley很美，但有那麼一點點太遠，雖然準備好逼迫Aaron開車帶我去玩耍，但可以理解他渡假不是很想早起和開長途。有同事推薦查爾斯頓山，峰頂積雪是蠻漂亮的，但一路上的登山步道比起沙漠和紅色大石頭遜色許多，我不是很想要大老遠跑到拉斯維加斯、租了車，結果看到的景象跟去七春天 (匹茲堡附近的滑雪場)差不多。於是紅岩峽谷勝出。
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is about half an hour away in driving distance from the Las Vegas Strip. It is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. depending on the time of the year. The admission is $7 per vehicle. You can use “America the Beautiful” national park pass here.
We rented a car from Alamo at the McCarran Rent-a-Car Center near the airport at about 11:30 a.m. It did not take long to get our rental car. Since we rented a car, I would not pass on the opportunity to eat off the Strip. The only time I had In-N-Out Burger was 10 years ago during my second trip to the U.S. Back then I thought it was amazing. I had to give it another try to see if I still like it after much more exposure to American bacon and cheese burger.
紅岩峽谷 (Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area) 距離拉斯維加斯大道大概開車半小時，從早上六點開放到晚上五點至八點不等，依季節而異，門票每輛車七塊美金，可以用美國國家公園年票”America the Beautiful” 。
我們在機場的租車中心McCarran Rent-a-Car Center租車，早上十一點半從Alamo拿車，還蠻快的。既然租了車，就要好好利用，用來開發賭城大道之外的餐廳。這輩子唯一一次吃過In-N-Out是十年前第二次來美國的時候，當時對它評價很高，這次想來看看吃過這麼多美式漢堡之後還會不會覺得In-N-Out好吃。
The 13 miles long scenic drive goes through the area. It’s a one-way loop. You can reenter the 13-mile loop on the same day with the pass. The visitor center is located at the start of the drive. It’s quite worth visiting. A hiking trail map is available online and at the visitor center.
Limestone from some 500 million years ago, sandstone from 250 million years ago, and the Aztec sandstone from 180 million years ago…colorful mountains in this area are spectacular. The peaks of these mountains rise thousands of feet off the ground. Magnificent escapement makes Red Rock Canyon a popular spot for rock climbing. Traces of the native people’s activities in the Mojave Desert spread out in the area. At Willow Springs you can find pictographs and agave roasting pits.
這裡最厲害的是多樣化的岩層: 五億年前的石灰岩、兩億五千萬年前的砂岩、一億八千萬年前的阿茲特克砂岩，在沙漠一切看起來不覺得多高多大，但其實這些山壁都有一千公尺到兩千四百公尺高。來這裡攀岩的人很多，許多步道可以看到早期莫哈維沙漠原住民留下來的遺跡，譬如說在Willow Springs可以看到壁畫和用來烤龍舌蘭的窯。
Besides the colorful escapement, I was most interested in spotting some wildlife. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see burros crossing the road, a tortoise or a ground squirrel in front of the red Aztec sandstone, a big horn sheep drinking water from a spring, or a jackrabbit looking back his shoulder in the desert with cacti in the background? I knew I was asking for too much given that we went in the middle of the day. The only tortoise we saw was in the conservation area at the visitor center and this one refused to come out.
My most favorite shot of the day was probably the one of a ground squirrel with the Calico Hill in the background. I was sooooo excited when I saw this guy disappearing behind a bush right after we parked in front of the Calico Hill. I switched out my lenses while watching him the whole time. At first he ran whenever I tried to get closer. In the end we pretty much became friends. He would stare at me about a meter away. He was probably a white-tailed antelope ground squirrel. I’ve got two billion photos of this cutie. In order to not bore everyone to death, I’ll put them in a separate post.
這一天最滿意的照片是在Calico Hill前面的這隻地松鼠 (?) ground squirrel，他應該是個白尾羚羊地松鼠(white-tailed antelope ground squirrel)，長得活生生是個花栗鼠，但差別是花栗鼠的臉上有黑色條紋，這種地松鼠沒有。我們在Calico Hill前面停車，下車一看到他超興奮!!!!!! 馬上換鏡頭，一邊用眼角餘光跟蹤他。一開始我一接近他就跑，後來我們簡直變朋友，他會在大概離我一公尺遠的地方盯著我看，我大概拍了兩億張，為了不讓這篇變超長然後大家看到一半就關掉，眾多地松鼠照片會放在另一篇。
I should have known better and hiked the Calico Hill. The beautiful sandstone peaks later on along the scenic drive were all back-lit in the afternoon. Calico Hill, the first scenic spot you’d see along the 13-mile drive, looked like the most amazing part. We did not take a hike over there because I wanted to save some time to see the rest. (And…I wasted lots of time chasing and then hanging out with that ground squirrel. Sorry Aaron.)
早知道應該要在Calico Hill停下來走一走，下午去的話，後段的砂岩山壁都背光，第一個景點Calico Hill最值得好好花時間逛，但那時候想著要留時間看剩下的景點，就沒爬這一塊 (還有我迷失在跟地松鼠當朋友….)
We entered the park at about 1 p.m., got lost in the ground squirrel cuteness and excitement (just me), stopped at most of the scenic spots, took a short walk off trail to climb on a big rock, took a short hike around the Lost Creek for about 40 minutes, and ended up at the Red Rock Overlook waiting for sunset golden hours at about 4:15 p.m. (This was in March.)
At the Red Rock Overlook, I walked off the overlook and meant to take some pictures of the Calico Hill with Joshua Trees in the front. While I had my 18-55 mm mounted on my camera, I saw a jackrabbit!!!!
This jackrabbit was far, far away, jumping toward the opposite direction of me. I knew the chance of me swapping the lens and keeping up with this fast, jumpy thing is too slim. But hey my dad told me if I always thought it’d be too late to swap my lens, I’ll never catch anything cool. So I proceeded with the quickest lens swapping operation while keeping an eye on the jackrabbit far away─so far that I wouldn’t even catch him even if I had a 300mm at where I was.
Surely the jackrabbit was gone. I walked all the way down to that area anyway to see if I get lucky, but I didn’t even see any rabbit poop.
Red Rock Canyon is very much worth visiting if you’re ever in Vegas. You won’t get to rely on your smartphone in Red Rock Canyon so get prepared or go to the visitor center to collect information you need. There is barely any cell phone connection.
For dinner, I dragged Aaron to this all-you-can-eat sushi place on the way back. There are a couple of all-you-can-eat sushi places off the Strip. I picked Sushi House Goyemon. The all-you-can-eat dinner was $26.95 with one order per person sweet shrimps and sea urchin nigiri. Lucky me, Aaron’s quota was mine! There was no sashimi on the all-you-can-eat menu but you can order this salad that came with chucks of raw fish. For the price, I was very happy with the food. I had two orders of sweet shrimps and sea urchin and single orders of octopus, masago, scallop, salmon, salmon belly, yellowtail, salmon roe and helped Aaron with his rolls. We also had a pork belly appetizer. It was good. I had a green tea creme brulee to end the meal. The dessert portion is quit small so you’d be okay if you’re stuffed but still want some green tea goodies.
The restaurant was small and very popular. We got there at about 5:20 p.m. and there was a long wait. We grabbed two seats at the sushi bar. It was awesome to be able to directly order from sushi chefs instead of waiting for a waiting staffer at a table.
晚餐再度仗著租了車，跑去一家吃到飽的日本料理，賭城這一帶有好幾家壽司吃到飽，我選了五右衛門 Sushi House Goyemon，晚餐吃到飽是$26.95，每人限點一份甜蝦握壽司和一份海膽握壽司，沒有生魚片，但菜單上有個沙拉是生菜跟小塊生魚，以這價位，壽司還蠻好吃的。我們點了兩份甜蝦、兩份海膽、一份章魚、魚卵、干貝、鮭魚、鮭魚肚、鮭魚卵、黃尾魚還有Aaron點的幾個壽司捲，開胃菜的三層肉也不錯，最後點了個綠茶烤布雷，甜點的份量蠻小，如果很飽但又想要試試看甜點應該沒什麼問題。
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
The Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association
Sushi House Goyemon
5255 S. Decatur Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89118